Entry Level Hifi - The best choices - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 01-26-2006, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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I am not sure the term "Entry Level Hifi" is being used correctly but ...

I could use some suggestions for a speaker pair to audition in-home. The type of speaker I have in mind is an entry level model to a brand that makes much more expensive speakers.

An example would be Revel's Concerta M12. At about $650 a pair Revel makes much more expensive speakers. However some Concerta owners, and reviewers, have suggested these less expensive speakers have benefited from the research done for their more expensive brand mates.

I may very well audition the M12's. However I am not that familiar with the higher end brands and wonder what else might be available.

Since my listening is about 80% HT/20% music I will likely go with bookshelves/monitors with a quality sub. And the price of a pair should be around $800 or less.

FWIW my plan is to compare 4 to 5 speaker models at home to build an HT around. 3 models have already been chosen.

Given the above, what speakers might you suggest?

Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 19 Old 01-26-2006, 11:19 AM
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I would classify the Paradigm Studio 20s as "entry level hi-fi".

But then again, that statement is completely subjective, so hard to say.

You might hear people suggest ascend as people say they are extremely flat given their price-point.

-SP
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post #3 of 19 Old 01-26-2006, 02:11 PM
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The ascend 340SEs seem to have a good neutral response graph and I'd guess they would be very good with music from what I have read. I wouldn't let their lower price than what you may be looking at turn you off. As we all know, higher price does not equate to better performance.

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post #4 of 19 Old 01-26-2006, 02:24 PM
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What are the 3 models you've already chosen?
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post #5 of 19 Old 01-26-2006, 03:51 PM
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Most manufacturers these days have products in every price point. Even JBL still makes "statement" speakers with the K2. That said, if you're looking to get a flavor of some manufacturer's more exotic (aka: hideously expensive) gear, you might consider these:

Magnepan MMG's
Von Schweikert VR1's
JM Lab Chorus S 706
B&W 603 S3
Tyler Taylo1
Paradigm Studio 20's
Wharfedale Diamond 9.1
Quad 11L
Usher (numerous models)
NHT SB2

Hope this helps.
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post #6 of 19 Old 01-26-2006, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KPFury
What are the 3 models you've already chosen?

KP,

If all goes according to plan I'll have

a. Ascend 340 se's - to represent the Internet direct brands
b. Boston Acoustic VR2's - for a traditional midfi brand. I liked them in-store after reading what SteveCallas had to say about the VR3s.
c. Ed Frias T-20's - The informal reviews on these speakers are impressive.

I am know hoping to ad a speaker which is at or near entry level for an expensive brand. The Revel M12 and JM Lab Chorus line (thank you for the suggestion topspeed) are available locally.

John (Alimentall) was kind enough to offer a pair of NHT classic 3's for a demo. If he gets them in time (the 3's are just about to hit the streets) they will likely be part of the audition.
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post #7 of 19 Old 01-27-2006, 07:36 AM
 
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Athena AS series speakers meet your criteria because they benefit from the research and experience of manufacturing the far more expensive Mirage and Energy brands. The two floor-standers (The F1 and F2) sound so good that you can easily forget they are a budget product and believe that they are truly "high-end".
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post #8 of 19 Old 01-27-2006, 08:06 AM
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Throw in the Monitor Audio Silver Series bookshelf, and the Energy Reference Connoisseur RC-10 as good candidates for entry level hifi speakers.

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post #9 of 19 Old 01-28-2006, 06:41 AM
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I would echo Topspeed's advice. That's a solid list. Remember that when it comes to speakers, there are companies that have been doing things right, with lots of R+D and experience, for the small high-end two channel market, and then there are "Johnnie Come Lately" companies that have launched product lines in response to the relative boom in the HT market. Sure, a lot of the newer speaker producers deliver a good product, and this is a broad generalization, but by and large the old guard can deliver a glimpse of true high end audio at a less expensive price. These companies often combine economies of scale with trickle down technologies. B+W is a classic example of this. Revel is another good company to add to the list.
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post #10 of 19 Old 01-28-2006, 06:51 AM
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Just a thought, but if I were a big buck speaker company I wouldn't want my entry level line to sound too close to my premier line.
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post #11 of 19 Old 01-28-2006, 08:30 AM
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If I had the money to do this my list would look like this;

Athena Audition AS=F2.2's
Reason: It seems most of the stuff I read about them is people saying, "I upgraded from my Sony HTiB to these and couldn't be happier, I can't see any speakers under $1500 competing with these" however most of the people saying this don't seem to have experience with $1500 speakers.

Klipsch Synergy F-3's
Reason: The best speakers carried by Best Buy, probably owned by more people than any other single speaker (non-audiophile) but not carried by any other store to do a real comparison.

Klipsch Refernce RF-35's
Reason: The second best sounding speaker (to me) that I found in my auditioning in store. Would like to compare them against the newer Synergy series which is cheaper and by many accounts at least as good, if not better than the older versions of thir cousins.

B&W 603 series 3's
Reason: from my listening these were without a doubt the best sounding speaker I found. I would own them right now if my daughter didn't work at Best Buy (I get 75%ish off the Athena and Synergy series, which is one reason why they are on my list). As it is I still might decide to just spend the extra money ($800) to have what sounds the absolute best to me.

Magnepan MMG's
Reason: Maggies seem to be like Subarus, you never hear too much about them, but their owners never complain and never buy a different brand. Seems they inspire incredible loyalty and true owners for life. I would like to get a listen myself, but for a flat panel they sure do need alot of room (except the MMG-W's which have a VERY limited FR)

Boston VR-3's
Reason: From SteveCallas review these sound like exactly the sound I am looking for, too bad I can't find any in my area, and Steve didn't audition them against any of the other speakers I am interested in. in his amazingly detailed review. So I am very hesitant to order some online unheard.

That is 6, but could easily be cut to 5, since I already know the Klipsch Refences don't compete with the B&W's. I only included them to see if the Synergys compete with them.
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post #12 of 19 Old 01-28-2006, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ericgl
Just a thought, but if I were a big buck speaker company I wouldn't want my entry level line to sound too close to my premier line.

Most of these "Big Buck" speaker companies with multiple lines and levels of speakers upgrade their speakers periodically. Most of them also don't update ALL of their speakers at once. So many times there is a 1-2 year span where the Entry level model is brand new and the next level up is up to 5-7 or more years old. Like with the Klipsch right now, the new reference is coming out soon, and I'm sure it will blow the Synery line away, but for right now the difference between the two is supposedly not that great.
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post #13 of 19 Old 01-28-2006, 09:11 AM
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For "entry" level I would like to recommend Vandersteen 1C, though they are not bookshelf speakers. They are the finest speaker I have listened to for under $1000. YMMV, but good luck in your search.

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post #14 of 19 Old 01-28-2006, 11:08 AM
 
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I like Paradigm to start out. Dynaudio also has some speakers in thie range which are excellent. Like the Paradigm, but superior imaging and better highs. Gutsy like the digms though.
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post #15 of 19 Old 01-28-2006, 01:40 PM
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If your interested in the VR2s, PM me. I have a pair ( used for about 8 hours) total, and am not fond of them at all. Other than that, I would personally look into the NHT 1.5s or 2.9s, with AC2 for center. I actually owned these, and recently sold, as I went and upgraded to a different brand of speakers (whole different class) but IMO the NHTs sound as good as some brands costing 3 to 4 times their cost. In theater they are hard to beat, but are a bit bright when listening to music, I dont know about the newer evolution lines, as I havent had time to audition, but I would imagine they perform quite well. I personally think that they( the older NHTs) outperformed many already mentioned here, and are very affordable, and can be found on ebay, or audiogon. From what Ive read in this thread so far, I think your next best choice IMO is the revel line, they seem to be a bit more nuetral than the others mentioned. It all comes down to your preferences obviously, and wallet size, but I really dont think you go wrong with NHT, or revel since most of your use is movies. Just My Opinion, possibly worthy of consideration?
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post #16 of 19 Old 01-28-2006, 06:35 PM
 
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^^^ plus 1
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post #17 of 19 Old 01-29-2006, 12:34 AM
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Quote:
too bad I can't find any in my area, and Steve didn't audition them against any of the other speakers I am interested in
Edonidd, if it helps any, I actually did audition the B&W 600 and 700 series and the Klipsch RF 7s against the Paradigm Studio 100s back when I was still at Purdue. I much preferred the Studio 100s. Going into this last round of auditioning I did, which I documented, the Paradigm Studios and Boston VR-Ms were my leading candidates - up until then, I never had a chance to compare them to each other. I have never heard Magnepans or Athenas though.

But don't make any purchasing decisions based off of my impressions - you gotta listen to them all for yourself :p
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post #18 of 19 Old 01-29-2006, 01:14 AM
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I have heard several bookshelves in the $800 range.

A few stick out in my head as good all-arounders:

Polk LSi9
Onix Reference 1
Paradigm Ref 40 (used at that price)
Sonus Faber Concerto (used at that price)

Trust your ears.

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Working on the analog system...
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post #19 of 19 Old 01-29-2006, 06:59 AM
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Quote:
The ascend 340SEs seem to have a good neutral response graph and I'd guess they would be very good with music from what I have read.
He , surely , can read too, but actual listening and A/B comparisons would probably be best for him ,as well as, anyone else who recomends something.

Quote:
I wouldn't let their lower price than what you may be looking at turn you off. As we all know, higher price does not equate to better performance.
No, but it's the way to bet.

Quote:
B&W 603 S3
.........Paradigm Studio 20's
Given that the B&W's have a new bookshelf , the CM1, that retails for about the same price as the 20's, I would think that this would be a better comparison.
The VA bookshelves would be worth a listen, and I'll second the LSI's, and I believe Sonus Has a smaller set of bookshelves as well (Concertinos?).

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(But not today....)

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